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No action against officer for Shipman blunders-IPCC

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) No action will be taken against a police officer for failures in the probe into serial killer Harold Shipman that could have cost three victims their lives, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said today.

Family doctor Shipman was jailed in 2000 for killing 15 people by lethal drug overdoses in Hyde near Manchester and an independent inquiry later ruled he had probably murdered more than 250 patients, most of them elderly.

Dame Janet Smith, the judge conducting the inquiry, said inexperience and serious failures by two officers heading the investigation had allowed Shipman, nicknamed ''Dr Death'' by the press, to continue carrying out murders unchecked.

In her report, Smith singled out for blame Chief Superintendent David Sykes and Detective Inspector David Smith, both of Greater Manchester Police in northern England.

The IPCC report today said it had found some evidence that there had been ''breaches of honesty, integrity and performance of duties'' by a detective inspector but prosecutors had decided the case did not warrant criminal charges.

Greater Manchester Police had also decided it could not take disciplinary action against the officer because witnesses were either unwilling or unable to take part.

''I accept this decision may be upsetting to the families of Harold Shipman's victims and the wider public who have followed this case closely,'' said Naseem Malik, the IPCC Commissioner for the North West.

''We have taken account of the fact that one key witness is now dead and others are either unwilling to participate or their evidence has been undermined and does not carry sufficient weight due to the passage of time.'' Bearded, bespectacled Shipman, the world's second-worst serial murderer of recent years, began his killing spree in the 1970s as a junior doctor. His victims probably included a four-year-old girl Janet Smith's report found.

''I understand that the length of time this investigation has taken may have added to the grief of the families,'' Malik said.

He added that he had recommended that the same detective involved in the Shipman investigation should receive ''words of advice'' following another IPCC probe into police failures that led to the collapse of a murder trial in 2003.

REUTERS SHB BD1446

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